Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Chief of Defence staff General Jonathan Vance attend a news conference in Ottawa on Nov. 22, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)In the meantime, they say they will enter negotiations to purchase Boeing Super Hornets without a competition because the air force is facing a critical shortage of warplanes, which poses an "urgent" need.
No urgent need?The Conservatives subsequently awarded a $700-million contract to Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que., to modify a civilian ship to provide resupply capabilities for the navy until full replacements could be built.
"The taxpayers will bear the cost of this and it's not necessary."They also said operating an "interim" fleet would significantly increase the air force's operational costs, not to mention the billions that will be spent to simply acquire the Super Hornets. "This was probably the worst possible option," said Ross, who succeeded Williams as assistant deputy minister of materiel and recommended the F-35 to the previous Conservative government. "The taxpayers will bear the cost of this and it's not necessary." The government has refused to say how much it expects to pay for the Super Hornets, or what it will do with them if another jet fighter wins the promised competition.
Figures could run as high as $8B, they sayBut Ross and Williams predicted the figure could run anywhere between $3 billion and $8 billion, depending on what is included and how long they are kept. Officials say the cost of the Super Hornets won't hit the government's bottom line or make the deficit any bigger in the short term because there is already $9 billion set aside by the previous Conservative government for the purchase of fighter jets. However, there is no extra money in the fiscal framework for another tranche of jets. Those planes will need fresh financing to the order of many billions of dollars.
Boeing's rivals grumblingAnalysts have long warned that the military is dealing with unrealistic expectations under a tight spending cap, though the government says it will address that problem with a new defence policy next year. Representatives for Boeing's rivals were quietly grumbling on Wednesday about the government's decision to buy the Super Hornets without a competition. But none was prepared to make a public fuss, saying instead that they planned to bring their concerns to the government when it launches a competition next year.
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